Holiday Gift Ideas: Zach’s Cycling Wish List
Rather than pump out some generic Top 10 list, we decided to put a personal touch on it and each curate our own wish lists of things we’d love to get this holiday season. Each of us has our own riding style, and our lists are made up of things we’ve seen or ridden so far this year that have really impressed us. We think you’ll like them, too. – Tyler
As the tech editor for Bikerumor.com, my riding style is diverse to say the least. I’m not sure I can be pigeon holed into a particular category except I like to go fast, ride loose, and take chances. I’ll ride just about anything, and probably try something ill advised while doing so – which is how I ended up with a broken arm this fall while riding a cross bike. I get joy out of things that are really well made, but I’m not opposed to trying something new (why do I feel like I just filled out an online dating profile or something?).
I’m pretty sure I can never have enough mountain bikes. N+1, right? While I’m currently writing the review, I’ll let the cat out of the bag and say that the Vassago Verhauen ($999 frame only) has changed my mind about 29ers. Just. Built with a geometry that suits my size, a dialed ride, and made in the US steel, the Verhauen is one hardtail I would really like to own. I’ll leave it at that so you’ll still want to read the review.
Since they are two completely different bikes, I’m going to say I want the Turner Burner just as badly as the Verhauen. I don’t know how I ended up with two bikes I like so much for review at the same time, but for consistency, the Burner review is coming soon as well. The Burner is also built by Zen Bicycle Fabrications in Portland – maybe there’s something to that. The bike has such a balanced feel, and while the Vassago has me liking 29s for a hardtail, 26 or 27.5 is still my choice come full suspension.
I will say though (since this is a wish list), I want the polished 20th anniversary edition ($2,445 frame, $6,580 complete) . I mean look at it!
There are a lot of really nice road bikes out there these days, but honestly a Trek Madone 7 series through their Project One program in black with minimal logos would be hard to pass up. I had a demo Madone through my shop at one point and I remember it having a great ride, plus I really like the fact that they are still made in the US (at least the higher end models). As a gift, a custom configured bike wouldn’t be very practical but one can dream right? Of course it would have Shimano’s Dura Ace 9070 Di2 group on it as well. Price as equipped? A pricey $11,549.99. Better get to work, Santa.
Alternatives: I’ve always wanted a traveling road bike, so a Moots Vamoots CR (custom, prices vary) with S&S couplers is high on the list. Give me the 44mm head tube, rack and fender mounts, and clearance for at least 28mm tires and it would be a great go anywhere, do everything bike. I’m also still quite impressed with the Raleigh Revenio 4.0 carbon, and based on the changes they have made to the 2014 model, it seems like it could be a winner as well (though I like the matte black of the 2013 a little better).
COMMUTER, CX, OR
OTHER BIKE FATBIKE
I love the fact that my fatbike has taken me to places locally where I have never been on any other bike. I won’t be giving up my other mountain bikes any time soon, but I won’t be giving up my fatbike either. Borealis’ Yampa SL ($2,249 frame, standard builds starting at $3,599) build is a want, just because I have never ridden a fatbike this light (broken arm kept me from it at Interbike). A 21 lb 9oz fatbike? The weight makes me a little skeptical that it would hold up to some of the more, um, adventurous rides I’ve been on, but I would be willing to give it a try!
Acceptable alternatives: 9:Zero:7’s new Whiteout carbon fatbike is pretty intriguing especially the green monster they had at Interbike at 23.15lbs, and I was pretty impressed with the Salsa Beargrease XX1 as well.
I’m giving away all of my reviews before they happen, but for a component the new Rock Shox Pike ($980 – $1085) is incredible. One of the most supple forks I’ve tested, the Pike is also very light and stiff. It’s not perfect, but very few things are. If your allegiance is to other fork manufacturers but you’re in the market for a new enduro fork, do not overlook the Pike.
Acceptable alternatives: I like dropper posts, but I’m still looking for the right one. The time I have spent on the KS LEV dropper made me think it could be the one, especially since none of my bikes currently offer stealth routing capability. If they did, the LEV Integra would have me covered there. As for drivetrain wants – for mountain it would be SRAM’s XX1 and road would be Shimano’s Dura Ace Di2.
CLOTHING OR GEAR
After hearing far too many stories of cyclists hit out on the road, my focus has really shifted to my safety while out riding. Because of that, the POC Octal Avip ($270) may be the most valuable piece of gear I have. Why? In addition to protecting my head like any other good helmet, the interaction between drivers the bright orange orb has cultivated has been surprising. I notice eye contact with drivers almost 100% of the time while wearing the Octal – something I don’t get with other helmets, or even with high viz clothing. There is something about the helmet that just attracts driver’s attention, and that’s the point. Add in their collaboration with .ICE, and you have a high performance helmet that may just save your life without taking an impact.
Acceptable alternatives: After finding themselves on my feet most of the Summer, Pearl Izumi’s X-Project 1.0 mountain bike shoes are worth a mention. The shoes blend race-like on-bike performance with superior comfort and hikeability into one decidedly green shoe. Other shoes worth mentioning are Lake’s CX331 road shoes, as well as their MX 145 Winter boot. If you ride a lot in the winter and don’t have a pair of winter boots yet, do yourself a favor and make the investment. Of all of the cycling gear I’ve bought personally, my Pearl Izumi winter boots (unfortunately not made anymore, but you get the point) are one of my favorite purchases.
TOOL OR MISCELLANEOUS
For the mechanic that has everything, even a cassette tool, there is the Abbey Bike Tools Crombie cassette tool and Whip It chain whip ($35-45, and $40). One of the few things that I’ll rattle on about like an old man complaining about kids on his lawn, is when tools were built to last, and built here with pride. I want to buy a tool once, and buy it right. Not only are Abbey’s tools made in Bend, Oregon by someone that is just as fanatical about tools as I am, but they also happen to work really well. If you’re changing cassettes on a regular basis, you will be surprised how nice it is to not have to remove the skewer. Plus the nesting design of the Crombie tool and the Whip It saves room whether it’s in the back of your road trip-mobile, or your international travel tool kit.
A 53mm Chris King Espresso Tamper (an $85 tool for coffee) would be a great option as well. Cyclists love coffee (see small things below), and I was excited to get an espresso machine just so I would have a reason to own one of these tampers. They roast some pretty mean coffee as well…
Acceptable alternatives: File this under the I should have one but don’t category – a Jagwire Hydraulic Hose Cutter and Needle driver. Shimano and SRAM both have their own versions of the tools, but the use is the same. These two simple tools help take a lot of the hassle out of shortening brake lines, something that sometimes seems like you need 4 hands to complete. Also, if we’re just throwing things out there, I really miss having a Phil Wood Spoke cutter at my disposal. Talk about well built tools. Anyone who has built a lot of wheels can appreciate that one.
EXPERIENCE OR TRIP
In spite of a number of years racing down hill and riding bike parks on the East Coast, somehow I have still not made it up to Whistler. At the top of many rider’s lists, Whistler certainly is one of the top destinations. At least, that’s what people keep telling me.
Acceptable alternatives: Almost as high on the to-do list is Passportes du Soleil, a lift assisted MTB festival that offers 80km of riding and 6500m of descending the mountains in Chatel, France in one day! That’s almost 50 miles and 21,325.5 feet for us Westerners. Whistler may have been on there longer, but Passportes du Soleil may rank higher on the bucket list. On the road side of things, following the Tour from start to finish and riding some of the famous mountain passes is a must do for me as well.
FIVE MORE LITTLE THINGS
- Since XX1 and X01 are still very expensive, Wolf Tooth Components chainrings are a great way to go 1x and ditch the front derailleur. Available in most chainring standards, the rings are made in the US to very high standards and work like a champ.
- Bourbon. Who said this had to be all bikes? Got a favorite mechanic at your local shop that always has your bike dialed in that little bit extra? Buy him or her a bottle of great bourbon to say thanks. Guarantee your bike will always be done ahead of schedule from here on out. Currently I’m digging Blantons, but there are so many others to try…
- Coffee. There are a lot of coffee drinkers out there that also happen to ride bikes. Coincidentally, there also happen to be a lot of coffees linked to cycling. Give me something dark (whole bean of course), and I’m happy. Pearl Izumi will be offering Legal Doping (coffee) on their website soon with all the proceeds benefiting Boulder Flood Relief. Sounds like a good excuse to me.
- At first I wasn’t so sure about these, but the Spy Cutter sunglasses have turned out to be one of my favorites. Looking completely different than your average cycling specific frame, the Cutters offer quick change lenses, a huge field of view, and a comfortable fit.
- If you’re looking for something cheap that just about any cyclist will love, check out the CamelBak Podium or Specialized Purist water bottles. Both are awesome bottles that don’t leak, and have really nice valves. These are really nice if you ride with energy drink in your bottles as they cut down on the sticky mess underneath your cages.